Klipsch RP-160M Review

by Bruno Brozovic

Klipsch RP-160M bookshelf speakers deliver powerful, detailed audio with deep bass and clear highs, making them versatile for various room setups and a standout choice for music lovers.

Intro

When I first came across the Klipsch RP-160M speakers, I was struck by their reputation for delivering high sensitivity and excellent sound quality. These bookshelf speakers are known for their ability to produce powerful, detailed audio with deep bass and clear highs, thanks to their Cerametallic woofers and titanium tweeters. Their compact design makes them versatile for various room setups, and the removable grille adds a touch of elegance. I’m excited to dive deeper into their performance and features. Stay tuned for my detailed review where I’ll put these speakers to the test and see if they live up to the hype.

Klipsch RP-160M Review

Klipsch RP-160M Review

Construction & Design

The Klipsch RP-160M speakers stand out because they use the latest and best-sounding Tractrix Horn tweeter. This tweeter is key to the unique sound that Klipsch speakers are known for. The high efficiency and energetic sound of these speakers make them special. Klipsch has worked hard to improve the sound quality over the years, and the RP-160M benefits from all their latest technological advances. These are two-way, bookshelf speakers designed to deliver top-notch audio performance. I’ll explore more about their features and performance further.

These American monitors feature a newly developed titanium tweeter from the Tractrix Horn. The manufacturer has also chosen to use an even lighter and stiffer Cerametallic diaphragm for the mid-woofer, aiming to enhance the precision of bass and midrange reproduction, capturing all rhythmic nuances. In older models, the midrange and bass speakers used IMG graphite diaphragms—these provided a plastic and full sound but lacked the outstanding dynamics of the Cerametallic cones. That’s why the manufacturer returned to Cerametallic cones, not only for their superior sonic qualities but also to complement the new Tractrix Horn drivers. The design of the RP-160M, like all other speakers in the new Reference Premium range, has been updated to an even more modern look.

Klipsch RP-160M Tractrix Horn

Klipsch RP-160M Tractrix Horn Construction

This speaker features a distinctive, permanently mounted plinth, giving it an interesting look while effectively eliminating vibrations. A similar design is used by Tannoy in their latest Revolution series, where the plinth is connected to the bottom wall with chrome sleeves. The Klipsch RP-160M monitors also have a specific rectangular bass-reflex port located on the back, just above the individual input terminals. The shape of this resonance tunnel resembles the Tractrix Horn tubes, but a closer inspection reveals slight differences, especially in the internal walls of the outlet. This design helps to better scatter low-frequency waves and reduce audible turbulence during diaphragm operation.

Klipsch RP-160M back side terminals

Klipsch RP-160M back side terminals

The new front panel is covered with a polymer brushed veneer, giving it an interesting and original look. The front looks great because the manufacturer has used a magnetic mounting system for the grilles, eliminating the unsightly bolt holes from the front panel. Additionally, the mounting holes and screws for the mid-woofer are masked with a decorative ring, enhancing the overall appearance. The front of the new Reference Premium series speakers looks better than ever. The boxes are damped with synthetic wool lining all internal walls. The vinyl foil covering the walls, except the front, is available in two finishes: ebony or cherry. The manufacturer also includes rubber pads to protect the plinth and the surface from scratches and to dampen vibrations.

Klipsch RP-160M Sound Test

The Klipsch RP-160M offers a rare sound, not only for their price category but also for monitors of this size in general. I was particularly impressed by their ability to reproduce a soundstage comparable to that of floor-standing speakers. From the very first minutes of listening, the RP-160M immediately grabbed my attention. The sound picture is large, widely, and precisely spaced, making it noticeable even to less experienced listeners. I started my tests with modern jazz by Lee Ritenour. From the very first tones, I was struck by the large dynamic scale, with each instrument presented in its natural size. The instruments were sharply focused, and the sound generated by the RP-160M gave the impression of listening to large floor-standing speakers.

Klipsch RP-160M Bookshelf Speaker - Ebony (Pair)
  • 1" Linear Travel Suspension Titanium Tweeter
  • 6.5" Spun Copper Cerametallic Cone Woofer
  • 90x90 Hybrid Tractrix Horn. All New Tractrix Port
  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 45-25kHz. SENSITIVITY: 96dB @ 2.83V / 1m. POWER HANDLING (CONT/PEAK): 100W/400W
  • MDF Cabinet with Brushed Polymer Veneer Baffle Finish

The new tweeter with an improved Tractrix Horn certainly contributes to the impressive soundstage of the Klipsch RP-160M, but the modern mid-bass unit with a composite Cerametallic diaphragm also plays a crucial role. The tweeter significantly impacts the soundstage reproduction, but it’s equally important to emphasize the mid and low ranges, reproducing these frequencies with precision and energy. The newest Klipsch bookshelf speakers certainly deliver in this aspect. I noticed that these American monitors sound more open, especially in the mid and treble ranges, but without becoming more aggressive.

The music from these speakers is more refined and subtle than previous models. While Klipsch’s horn tweeters don’t quite match the delicate sound of Danish Dynaudio’s soft domes, I immediately noticed that the treble from the Tractrix Horn was more delicate and subtle than ever before. However, you can still hear the distinctive heat and energy that make rock and energetic music sound great with the Klipsch RP-160M.

These speakers are perfect for rock music at this price point. Whether I was listening to Steve Vai’s guitar virtuosity or Steven Wilson’s psychedelic rock from Porcupine Tree, the sound was always compact, energetic, and richly detailed. This was especially impressive with Steven Wilson’s complex music.

Klipsch RP-160M Usage

The RP-160M speakers are very good at picking up details and nuances across all frequencies. Their ability to reproduce high and mid tones is impressive, thanks to the horn drivers. However, if you’re looking for extreme subtlety and delicacy, you might find their directness a bit disappointing. But if the sound were more universal, it might just be boring to many people.

These speakers are the fastest in their price range, reacting quickly to changes in rhythm, especially when the volume or intensity of the instruments increases. The sound builds up rapidly and with great control. Another big advantage is their efficiency, making them a perfect match for tube amplifiers, especially those with low wattage.

If you have a weak tube amplifier and you want to listen to rock, with a relatively small budget you can become the owner of loudspeakers that will surely turn out to be an ideal element of such a stereo setup. For example, the Reisong A10 EL34 with Klipsch RP-160M ​​created a very successful duo because, despite the low power of this small Japanese amplifier, I managed to obtain a dynamic sound with a scale typical of much stronger combinations. Apart from that, due to its direct character, the sound of the RP-160M ​​in combination with the tube amplifier is a bit softer, which in the end may convince even people who do not necessarily like the too direct style of playing, as generally presented by the Klipsch loudspeakers.

When it comes to bass, it has a range that sounds like it comes from floor-standing speakers. Naturally, the RP-160M are monitors and, like any such design, they have some shortcomings in the bass, but thanks to the unprecedented dynamics and volume in the bass range, the limitations related to the depth of the low components practically stop being noticeable during the listening session. Of course, if you like large symphonies, it may turn out that the bookshelf speakers may not be enough for you. On the other hand, in rooms up to 20 square meters, the amount of bass is sufficient, so only a few very sensitive listeners may feel a slight insufficiency in the depth of low tones.

This mainly applies to music based on instruments that go low, because even with dance and club music you will not feel the difference between the Klipsch RP-160M bookshelf speakers and other floor-standing speakers. I must also emphasize that the RP-160M are relatively easy to set up because even when they are close to the walls, for example on a chest of drawers, you will not experience any adverse interactions with the room. Yes, the bass will gain mass and slow down a bit, but it will still hold its resonance and, most importantly, your ears will not hear the unpleasant rumble associated with boosting the upper bass parts. However, when it comes to space and the amazing ability of these American speakers to build a huge stereo picture, you will get the best results by placing them on stands:

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Good to Know

While with classic tweeters, the material of the dome itself is the most important for the sound, with horn loudspeakers a lot depends on the tube. The example of many manufacturers shows that the tubes can take various shapes and be made of various materials. Klipsch took a similar path to JBL and began using rectangular tubes many years ago, but over time they started to take slightly different shapes. The breakthrough was the tubes from the Icon series tweeters, which probably contributed to the way the Tractrix Horn tubes look today in the latest Reference Premium loudspeakers.

The sound of the horn tweeter can have a different character depending on the shape and material of the tube. That is why the newest Tractrix Horn tubes have been developed to combine the best sound features of classic horn and horn designs. As a result, the Reference Premium series loudspeakers sound much better than previous models, especially in the treble range, and at the same time have lost nothing of their trademark – expressive and energetic sound.

Klipsch RP-160M Video Review

Klipsch RP-160M Specifications

  • Frequency response: 45-25kHz +/- 3dB
  • Sensitivity: 96dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Power handling (cont/peak): 100W/400W
  • Nominal impedance: 8 Ohms compatible
  • Crossover frequency: 1500Hz
  • High-frequency driver: 1″ Titanium LTS Tweeter with Hybrid Tractrix Horn
  • Low-frequency driver: 6.5″ Cerametallic Cone Woofer
  • Enclosure material: MDF
  • Enclosure type: Bass Reflex via rear-firing Tractrix port
  • Inputs: Dual binding posts/bi-wire/bi-amp
  • Height: 16.67” (42.4 cm)
  • Width: 8.81” (22.4 cm)
  • Depth: 12.86” (32.7 cm)
  • Weight 19.9 lb (9.03 kg)
  • Finish: Ebony, Cherry

You can download & view the manual here->Klipsch RP-160M Manual

Final Verdict

The new monitors from this American manufacturer have every reason to become one of the best bookshelf speakers on the market. The changed Tractrix Horn tube does a great job, supporting and largely responsible for the characteristics of the titanium tweeter. The copper-colored Cerametallic cone also plays a big role, created to match the high-performance driver tweeter. This fantastic speaker duo means the music we hear is characterized by dynamics unparalleled at this price, both on the micro and macro scale. Additionally, the new RP-160M builds a large sound stage with an almost life-size image, which is phenomenal not only for the price but also for bookshelf speakers. Like most Klipsch designs, the RP-160M is perfect for moderately powerful tube amplifiers. Thanks to their high efficiency, you can get decent volume levels with just a few watt tube amps.

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4.1/5 - (62 votes) - Click on stars to leave a review

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